Today I turn 36, and I am writing this down on a markdown editor on my iPhone while lying on my side, bored and tethered to a hospital bed a few inches short for my height, where I’ve been stuck since yesterday after being diagnosed with dengue fever. I will probably post this late since I am not feeling well and the internet here is slow, but would just want to write down my thoughts since there is not much to do around here.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever is pretty much everywhere this season, and I couldn’t think of any specific place where I could’ve been bit by that plagued mosquito. It could’ve been anywhere. The situation on this virus has escalated into sort of an epidemic in other parts the country as well as in the rest of South and Southeast Asia. Studies from several universities and the World Health Organization indicate that it could get worse by next year as the effects of El Niño goes into high gear. The Emergency Room I was in was 80% full of dengue cases, but we are fortunate here in Manila that our facilities are well-equipped to handle multiple cases of the virus. I’ve read that in other countries like India, they are having a harder time coping with the outbreak. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get any worse.
Day one was Friday (October 2) which started with me waking up to what felt like the flu. October 2 is my late sister’s 38th birthday and the night before was my grandmother’s 88th where we were up late with our balikbayan relatives and the rest of the family. I was thinking I was probably just tired from the past two nights of family stuff going on on a weekday, on top of a busy schedule at work.
It was that typical busy Friday where I had a string of meetings to attend to, one right before lunch and another two in the afternoon and evening. I opted to cancel the other two meetings since I was really starting to not feel well.
We finished our meeting, I hitched a ride, got dropped off and barely made it home. I almost passed out in Cash n’ Carry where I got dropped off. It felt like I was heavily drugged or drunk and I was literally dragging myself to the taxi stand some 100 meters away like a prisoner of war being force-marched to a labor camp. And then my training kicked in, like Jason Bourne, who despite having two gunshot wounds on his back, manages to drift at sea and be rescued by Italian fishermen after a botched mission in the Mediterranean, all those years of getting home while being intoxicated drunk “chemically imbalanced” has paid off and so I was able to get a ride home.
This is not the first time I got struck by this virus, the first time was back in college some fifteen or so years ago. Dengue has four strains which means I am now immune to the other two strains. This also made the virus much more difficult to handle this time around.
The next few days (October 3-5) had me nursing the viral infection which I already suspected to be dengue. There was the high fever, the piercing head and back pain and then the rash (October 6).
Rashes started to appear on my arms and legs on Tueday and it was what prompted me to get myself checked in at the hospital. The blood test confirmed what I already knew. It was scary but manageable, it was my second time so I knew the drill and how to work around to recovering from the virus. My platelet count went down to 29k which was just a hairline short of requiring a transfusion. I bled a little too, but not as worse as I expected. My mom and my brother “foraged” for tawa-tawa and turned it into tea and had me drink bottles of it, which, along with the IV fluids, kept me hydrated and helped me recover my platelet count. I also had a few shots of juiced Papaya leaves, they taste terrible BTW, but is equally effective. My platelet went up to 39k today. (Update: My platelet went up to 114k on my third day.)
On the days leading to my hospitalization, I would have nightmares of me waking up in the night with blood flowing continiously from my eyes, nose and ears, like the ship crew who self-mutilated in a scene from Event Horizon (1997), that incorrect Latin recording scene, “Libera te tu temet ex inferis”. It was scary but I somehow found it hilarious despite it being so morbid. My initial reaction was in my dream was “Oh come on, Event Horizon is so 1997, can’t I come up with something more recent” (as a dream reference?), “Am I really that old?” It was my birthday anyway and I did just turn 36 today, so yeah, that makes me, old.
Our friends from our Victory Group came by and brought some cake and food, which I was only able to eat a few days after. We would have really had a great time if I weren’t chained to this hospital bed and if I had my appetite back. It was the only semblance of a celebration I had for my birthdaty but their efforts were well worth it and I really appreciated the gesture.
My day ended well past midnight, well after these guys left, and after my wife went to sleep. I had for myself a few hours of being awake and alone, typing some of the contents of this entry while occassionally being checked on by a nurse. Being reminded of one’s mortality had me think and reflect on my outlook and priorities in life. I am really grateful that I am well and recovering and that I have my wife, kids, friends and family who are there to support me when I am in such a situation. There’s also a lot of work to do, to keep me on top of my health and to focus on the things that really matter.